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Peace: Beyond Understanding

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Peace is often elusive. We say we want it for the world, but that idealism is beyond unrealistic. We live in a world of unrest, conflict, and tragedy often of our own making. When there is no fault of our own, we shake our fist at the heavens and demand to know “Why?”

But, that isn’t the real question.

We ask for peace. We plead for it. We wonder why it never comes. We pound our pillows and scream into them–because we don’t want to disrupt the peace of others–“I didn’t ask for this! Why me?”

Let’s be honest with ourselves. It isn’t world peace we seek. It is personal peace. The unrest, conflict, and tragedy we experience is our own riling anxiety within us. What we want is peace. But, we search for it like a lost trinket we dropped or misplaced.

That’s most of the problem. We think we’ve lost peace. We set peace on your heads like a pair of sunglasses and then look for it with blurry vision. It can be with us the whole time, yet we fail to see it.

Until someone points it out.

Today I will be that someone who points it out. First, I will tell you a story.

On an uncharacteristically balmy evening in December, a woman gave birth to her second son. At first, everything seemed fine. But, the woman thought it was odd when she didn’t see her son much during the night. Perhaps it was because it was her second child that she didn’t worry. All babies are different.

She knew when she was carrying this child that he was different. He rolled in her belly. His feet rarely kicked, but his hands moved all the time. He leaned into her backbone whenever the midwife tried to get a heartbeat with the ultrasound. Perhaps it was because of her motherly intuition, but she simply knew. This baby was different.

Yet, when the chaplain came in to tell her that her baby had sickened and lost oxygen in the early morning hours, she didn’t panic. She received the news and asked to be taken to the nursery. There she saw her son–gray and pasty–and somehow she knew. Raising this child would be different.

The baby gained back health and grew. His milestones struggled to meet the ideal marks, but with encouragement and given time, he managed to achieve just enough. He exceeded in some areas–his mood swings, his sensitivities to light, noise, and texture, his anxiety about family and friends when they were sick, his propensity for remembering dates, his ability to see a word once and be able to read it yet not know how to explain its meaning. This child–so different from her firstborn–baffled and intrigued the woman.

When others pointed out these differences, she considered them. She allowed him to be evaluated. She knew what she already knew would be confirmed. So when the evaluator told her the results of the tests, she simply smiled. Her response was so different from that of most parents receiving such news.

It didn’t make sense. Her calmness at the hospital. Her smile at the diagnosis. Most people never saw the days she pounded her pillow and screamed into it “I didn’t ask for this! Why me?”

But, that’s when an overwhelming sense of what could only be incomprehensible peace washed over her. She would fluff her pillow, place in carefully in place, and keep her voice steady and strong. Why her? Why him? Why their family? Why not? There must be something different they were meant to do.

There certainly was. Each time something odd happened and she asked why, the peace would happen. It came in songs and words she had treasured all her life. I came as a sense of spiritual presence so close she felt the embrace and heard the words whispered in her ear. Unexplainable and odd. Unless there is that deep sense of knowing that God’s peace is different.

The above story is mine otherwise I would not be able to understand the incomprehensible peace that has occurred in my most unrestful, conflicting, tragic moments. I have learned that in order to experience this transcendent, sustaining peace I first needed to experience trouble. No, I didn’t want it. No, I couldn’t have found that peace on my own. But, I also never lost it. I just needed Him to point out when I needed to look through the lenses of faith and see things with the spiritual eyes He had already given me. That’s when all the pieces–with His peace–fall gloriously into place.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

John 14:27 ESV

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 ESV

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